Discovering Manaakitanga: Aotearoa hospitality
The word ‘manaakitanga’ comes from New Zealand’s Māori language. It is used to describe qualities and principles derived from the verb ‘manaaki’.
Manaaki is about looking after others by extending respect, hospitality, generosity, warmth, and care to them in a way that both honours them and enhances your own reputation.
The traditional value of manaakitanga in Māori culture is the foundation of the unique style of hospitality that makes a visit to New Zealand so memorable.
New Zealanders want manuhiri (visitors) to have a great time in their country and will go to great lengths to ensure they do. New Zealanders are known for being friendly and welcoming, which is influenced by a Māori belief that your mana, or reputation, is enhanced by welcoming visitors and looking after them like they are part of your family.
Karitane Maori Tours, South Island, New Zealand
Photo by: Camilla Rutherford
How do you Pronounce Manaakitanga?
Pronounce the ‘a’ as you would in ‘car’ and the ‘ki’ as you would in ‘car key’ – so phonetically it sounds like ma-naa-key-tung-a.
What is the Definition of Manaakitanga?
As is the case with many Māori words – the meaning of manaakitanga is much broader than can be explained with one word or direct translation. It can be broken down into three parts:
- Mana – is about honour, integrity, authority, dignity & reputation.
- From a Māori worldview, all people have some inherent mana derived from their ancestry and connection with land and deities.
- Your mana is strongest when you are located on your own lands where you hold authority.
- When visiting the lands of others it is expected that you recognize their authority and defer to their mana.
- Mana can be further enhanced or diminished by your deeds – the things you do and how you treat others.
New Zealanders enhance our mana as a nation by the way we treat visitors.
Manaaki has a duality of meaning:
Mana-āki (v) is to extend mana to others. ‘āki’ means to urge on, encourage, induce, incite.
Mana-a-kĪ (v) is Mana based on how others speak of you, ‘kī’ is to utter, speak, express, mention.
Manaakitanga (n) describes the qualities and principles of manaaki.
What does Manaakitanga feel like to a visitor?
- You will feel welcome.
- You will be treated more like a new friend than a stranger.
- New Zealander’s will go out of their way to look after you.
- Mutual respect – Manaakitanga acknowledges the mana of others as having equal or greater importance than your own.
- Food and rest – Māori consider that all gatherings or activities should be remembered with fondness and gratitude by those who attended. It is common for hosts to treat their guests to local delicacies, for which their area is well-known.
For New Zealanders, being hospitable, looking after visitors and caring how others are treated – no matter what their standing in society – is of prime importance.
Rotorua Canopy Tours, North Island, New Zealand
Photo by Miles Holden
How can visitors to New Zealand reciprocate Manaakitanga?
Mutual respect is a core philosophy of Manaakitanga and a visitor’s mana, honor or dignity, can be enhanced or diminished by their deeds. So how can visitors show Manaakitanga towards New Zealand and its people when on vacation:
- When outside in nature remember to stay on formed paths and do not walk or trample on fauna and flora.
- Don’t disturb Taonga (treasures). Some of the mountains, islands, and lakes are so important to Māori culture that they are considered Taonga and are therefore off-limits to non-Māori. There may also be other sacred sites like burial grounds. Always respect information signs.
- Keep a safe distance from wildlife (at least 65 feet) and do not try to interact or feed wildlife.
- Show respect to hosts and guides by not using mobile devices when engaged in conversation.
- Do not litter, always use trash bins provided.
- Remove your shoes when entering a wharenui (Māori house).
- Enjoy kai (food) and refreshments with your Māori hosts. Tell them in advance if you have any dietary requirements.
Hump Ridge Track, Fiordland, South Island, New Zealand
Photo by by Tareen Ellis
Source: NewZealand.com All images used with permission from Tourism NZ.
Next week: Learn how you can experience Manaakitanga through food and wine.